View Full Version : Insulation board "walls" info needed

09-09-2009, 03:58 PM
I'm looking for some advice on using DOW Super Tuff-R insulation board for light weight, cheap, set walling for a *photo* set (no hot film lights used). This is the stuff:


Its very affordable, just $11.00 plus tax at most Home Depots for a 4X8 sheet.

My idea is to use them as easy to assemble fake walls for stock photo production work inside a warehouse space that has decidedly non "home" looking walls LOL. I can easily remove the seams in post. I looked into regular drywall, but it's just too darn fragile to move around all the time without getting messed up, and its actually not anywhere near as rigid on its own as this foam board is.

My big question is in relation to painting this stuff. The guy at Home Depot recommended sanding the glossy paper outer surface prior to painting. I can see this making sense, but would this foam react chemically to the paint in some crazy way - like melt or put off some noxious gas? Has anyone here ever tried this for light weight set building?

Sad Max
09-09-2009, 04:45 PM
The guy at Home Depot recommended sanding the glossy paper outer surface prior to painting.

I'm generally reluctant to take the Home Depot people's word on much of anything. Sometimes you're lucky enough to meet a person there who really knows their stuff, but usually...

I can see this making sense, but would this foam react chemically to the paint in some crazy way - like melt or put off some noxious gas?

There's a very good chance that it will - depending upon the kind of paint you use. Water-based latex? Most likely no problem. Anything lacquer-based, or containing toluene? Could mean melty-melty. Your best bet is to do a sample test with the paint or paints you want to use, and see what happens (preferably somewhere with very good ventilation).

Has anyone here ever tried this for light weight set building?

Nope. Would love to hear how it works out for you.

09-09-2009, 06:19 PM
Thanks for the tips! What do you think of using spray paint? My real "end game" is simply light weight, white colored panels.

I did find this recently....


I like how its already white. I'm assuming I won't have to work nearly as hard to paint it any other color if wanted to either.

Now I just gotta find a place that actually sells it, I can't find it anywhere in Google's shopping search.

09-09-2009, 06:58 PM
Sad Max, do you have any experience with painting aluminum? This super tuff-r board has an aluminum coating on one side of it.

Sad Max
09-09-2009, 07:44 PM
For sure if you can find a product with an as-is finish that works, you're set.

I guess if you prime with a good seal coat that's suited to the material, you can expand your options in terms of what type of paint to apply - maybe even including the heavier solvent-based stuff.

Priming is also the answer with regard to painting aluminum. Some products (like Rustoleum) don't require priming or even much by way of cleaning pre-application but for other finishes you'll get best results after cleaning and priming the aluminum surface.

09-14-2009, 03:59 PM
If it has a waterproof coating that's good cause Homasote board is not fun to paint. It's cheap for a reason:
- meant to be broken simply by bending it
- easily dented
- hard to nail (unlike drywall or even foamcore)
- uncoated homasote is NOT meant to be painted.

Pin Homasote or this 3M stuff using liquid nails - not drywall nails
Be sure your framing is stiff as flexing beyond a bit will break the boards
Above all, avoid denting.

Transport by cutting 4X8's into 2,4X4's or have them deliver it to your set construction site.

Michael Carter
09-16-2009, 08:08 PM
Long-time still shooter here... it's not unusual to stretch canvas over a framework of 2x4's and paint it (usually paint it flat on the floor and stretch when it's dry). You can transport it rolled, and screw frames together for breakdown. Even tack baseboards on for realism. If you retouching these scenes, that may be another option.

Sad Max
09-16-2009, 09:08 PM
Primed and painted canvas over a lumber frame is theater-standard, too.

Paul F
11-10-2015, 10:03 AM
The aluminum film that is on the foam is easily removed. It just peels off.
There are videos showing how to make sets from foam. The one I have in mind used thicker foam to make 'stone walls' for a castle set
While the foam is lightweight, you still need a way to prop it up.
For a slightly higher investment, you can make real flats the way the pros do. These will be stable, remain flat, and stand on their own. Either plywood or canvas.

11-10-2015, 03:49 PM
4x8 sheets of Luan might work. Twelve bucks, stainable, paint able and lightweight.Takes up less space in initial transport.

11-11-2015, 04:30 AM
They do make light weight drywall 1\2 inch. 40 pounds compared to sixty, also 1\4 inch drywall weighs about thirty pounds.

Michael Carter
11-11-2015, 08:52 AM
I've done it with foam board insulation. Strip off the paper from one side, it comes off easily. Has a very rough look - it's cast foam and looked just like cast concrete.

You could smooth it with drywall mud, but by then you're better off buying luan plywood (door skin). Either way, you need to make 2x2 or 2x4 frames, and luan is very popular for this kind of thing.


01-26-2016, 10:25 PM
If you're not dead-set on painting, you could always wallpaper the insulation boards like the Red Letter Media guys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWSMAngE4po

01-27-2016, 12:08 AM
I've built stage sets out of honeycomb and corrugated cardboard panels with 1x2 wood frames glued to one side for handling and joining. Paper tape the joints and paint as needed.
There are more expensive versions like Eagle cell made for the signage industry with printable white paper surfaces if you need something more elegant.


https://www.grimco.com/Products.aspx?cid=0990&pid=05639 (http://www.ashleydistributors.com/category/corrugated)